Archive | October, 2009

FIFA Player of the Year Short List Revealed

30 Oct

The 23 nominees for FIFA World Player of the Year and 10 nominees for Women’s World Player of the Year have been announced by FIFA.

The five finalists for each award will be announced at the beginning of December with the winner being revealed on Dec. 21.

Cristiano Ronaldo won the honor last year and makes the list again.  All five finalists from 2008 are on the short list again this year (Ronaldo, Fernando Torres, Kaka, Xavi and Lionel Messi).

I’d have to give the edge to Messi this year as he played such a pivotal role in Barcelona’s treble last season.  Despite Argentina’s struggles in World Cup qualification, he’s always an incredibly dangerous threat.

On the women’s side, Brazil’s Marta has won the award three years running and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if she won it again.

From FIFA.com:

The following 23 men (in alphabetical order) are in contention for the title of FIFA World Player 2009;

Michael Ballack (Germany), Gianluigi Buffon (Italy), Iker Casillas (Spain), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Diego (Brazil), Didier Drogba (Côte d’Ivoire), Michael Essien (Ghana), Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon), Steven Gerrard (England), Thierry Henry (France), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden), Andrés Iniesta (Spain), Kaká (Brazil), Frank Lampard (England), Luis Fabiano (Brazil), Lionel Messi (Argentina), Carles Puyol (Spain), Franck Ribéry (France), Wayne Rooney (England), John Terry (England), Fernando Torres (Spain), David Villa (Spain) and Xavi (Spain).

The following ten women (in alphabetical order) are in contention for the title of FIFA Women’s World Player 2009;

Nadine Angerer (Germany), Sonia Bompastor (France), Cristiane (Brazil), Inka Grings (Germany), Mana Iwabuchi (Japan), Simone Laudehr (Germany), Marta (Brazil), Birgit Prinz (Germany), Kelly Smith (England) and Abby Wambach (USA).

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Huge win for Liverpool

26 Oct

Liverpool gave its title campaign a huge boost with a 2-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday.  It was the best performance that I’ve seen from Liverpool so far this season.  They did a wonderful job controlling the ball and the passing was excellent.  It was also a great showing from the back four.  Granted, there were some testy moments, namely involving slide tackles from Jamie Carragher, but overall, they did a good job of shutting down the United attack and closing down the passing lanes.

There were questions going into the game about whether Fernando Torres would play, but luckily he did and it was his goal in the 65th minute that separated the two sides.  He held off a challenge from Rio Ferdinand before rifling the ball into the top of the net.  Typical, wonderful goal from the Spaniard.   With United pushing forward for an equalizer, Torres’ substitute, David Ngog, added an insurance goal in stoppage time. 

In other fun news, United defender Nemanja Vidic was sent off for the THIRD STRAIGHT time against Liverpool.  According to Yahoo! Eurosport, he’s the first player in the Premier League era to be sent off that many times against the same team.  Unfortunately, Liverpool midfielder Javier Mascherano joined him in the locker room early after earning his marching orders a few minutes later.

Overall, a fantastic effort from a Liverpool side desperate for a win.  Hopefully the momentum of beating United will carry over to their other fixtures and give them the boost they really need to stay in the title race.

The USA is World Cup bound! (And so are seven other nations)

11 Oct

The United States scored three times in 13 minutes to defeat Honduras, 3-2 and clinch a spot in South Africa.  The Americans went down 1-0 immediately after halftime, but came back to score three straight.  Conor Casey scored the first two and Landon Donovan added the third on a free kick.  Honduras pulled one back minutes later.  The Hondurans had a chance to tie the game after being awarded a penalty for a handball in the box, but Carlos Pavon put the kick over the bar.  It was a huge win for the US as they clinched a spot in the finals and also showed that they could win in a hostile environment.

Mexico also booked their ticket to the final with a 4-1 win over El Salvador.  Wednesday’s US vs. Costa Rica game will be a big one for Costa Rica as they currently sit third.  If they beat the US, they will be in.

The teams that clinched spots on Saturday:  Ivory Coast, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Serbia, Mexico, USA, Chile

Gerrard hurt playing for England

10 Oct

Well, so far, the international break has been somewhat of a nightmare for Liverpool fans.  First, Fernando Torres picks up a knock in training with Spain and now, Steven Gerrard gets hurt playing for England.  The Liverpool captain left the game against Ukraine at halftime after picking up a thigh injury.  The last thing Liverpool needs is a repeat of last season when Gerrard and Torres were hurt every other game.

In other worrying news for Liverpool, Daniel Agger has been put into the starting eleven for Denmark.  He just recently returned to full fitness and hasn’t even played a game with Liverpool’s first team since coming back from injury.  Hopefully, he’ll make it through the week unscathed. 

The Reds have several other players on international duty (Mascherano and Skrtel to name a couple) as well, so hopefully they will all stay healthy.

More World Cup qualifier updates to come later…

Big weekend for World Cup qualifiers

9 Oct

More spots in South Africa are up for grabs this weekend.  In CONCACAF, the US, Honduras and Mexico all  have a chance to clinch a place tomorrow.  The big match in Europe is Russia hosting Germany.  The winner of that match is through to South Africa, while the loser heads to a playoff. A winner has yet to emerge in five of the groups in Europe.  South America is home to a tight race as well.  While Brazil and Paraguay have already qualified, the final 2 1/2 spots are up for grabs in a very tight race that will come down to the final matches.  Bahrain and New Zealand start their two-legged playoff tomorrow as well.  In Africa, only Ghana has made it through so far.  The rest of the groups are still up in the air.

There’s a lot of excellent soccer to be played this weekend.  It’s hard to believe how many spots (22 to be exact) are still open.  It’ll be exciting to see who else books a place in the finals…only 243 days away!

Already in (10):

Australia, Brazil, England, Ghana, Japan, Netherlands, North Korea, Paraguay, South Korea, Spain

Cannavaro fails drug test, Torres injured

8 Oct
Daniele de Rossi's elbow to Brian McBride's face is just one of many reasons I hate the Italian soccer team.

Daniele de Rossi's elbow to Brian McBride's face is just one of many reasons I hate the Italian soccer team.

Just for the record, I have major beef with the Italian national team due to their excessive diving and ridiculous play acting.  So, it did bring me a little bit of satisfaction when I saw that Italian captain Fabio Cannavaro failed a drug test.  He tested positive for cortisone, a banned substance in Italy.  It was supposedly an injection for a bee sting and he filed the paperwork for an exemption, but was missing one of the crucial pieces.  He’s set to be questioned by the Italian anti-doping agency on Friday.  Who knows what will come of this, but all it does for me is reinforce the notion that I think the Italians cheat.

In other, much more disturbing news, Liverpool striker Fernando Torres took himself out of Spanish national team training after experiencing tightness in his groin.  Hopefully it’s nothing and he stopped practicing as a precaution, but after last season, you never know.  The last thing Liverpool needs is their stud striker out for large parts of the season like Torres was last year.  I might just cry if he ends up unable to play for the Reds.  If he’s out, Liverpool can kiss any top four hopes good-bye.  However, I mustn’t get too worked up about it since Liverpool’s next game isn’t until the 17th of October.  Hopefully, Spanish national coach Vincente del Bosque will keep Torres off the field in their upcoming World Cup qualifiers since Spain has already booked its place in South Africa.

Aquilani still two weeks away from fitness

7 Oct

Liverpool’s new signing Alberto Aquilani is still at least two weeks away from fitness according to Rafa Benitez. Apparently Aquilani has been doing very well in his rehab workouts, but has yet to kick a ball, a rather vital act in the life of a footballer me thinks.

At this rate, Aquilani won’t make an appearance for Liverpool until November.  When Liverpool originally signed him, the thought was that he would be out an additional 4-8 weeks.  We’re approaching the back end of that number and with the Reds struggling, hopefully Aquilani will be able to assert himself in the lineup decently soon.  I realize it will take a while for him to be able to play a full 90 minutes, but we’ve got to have someone more reliable in the midfield if we’re even going to compete for a top four spot.  I’m not even sure Aquilani is the answer, but it’s worth a shot.